Managing your personal wellbeing

Wellbeing for working at home is critically important whether you work for someone else or you are your own boss.

If you work on your own, the challenges and pressures of dealing with running your enterprise have just been increased by lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated consequences. Looking after your mental health and wellbeing is essential to help you stay well in all regards and so you are able to manage the various pressures that can lead to overwhelm and stress in tough times.

You need to do something about it before stress stops you.

Wellbeing is holistic

Wellbeing is central to your overall health and enables you to overcome difficulties successfully and achieve what you want in life.  Your wellbeing is holistic, but it can be broken down into the different areas of mental, physical, emotional and environmental factors.

Action point 1: Have your own wellbeing plan for working from home based around the issues for each of these factors that you need to take care of.  Make a list of the things you need to manage and something you will do for each point that will help you make sure you a practising good habits.

Have a routine

As an overall goal have a routine.  Wake up, get up, get ready, plan your day, focus on aiming for a positive productive day, have a purpose and prioritise (do what matters), use your energy on what’s important, reward yourself and review what’s gone well.

Action point 2: have plan for the day and focus on goals that include your whole routine, i.e. you include breaks and taking in some fresh air.

Action point 3: identify what you typically tell yourself as you start the day? Are you telling yourself ‘it’s going to be another difficult day’ or are you telling yourself ‘there are some challenges to deal with today but I know I can deal with them’.  Notice whether you thoughts are positive and help you have a sense of purpose, or are they negative?  If you’ve heard of the phrase ‘self-fulfilling prophesy’ be aware you are setting yourself up to experience what you tell yourself!

Ideas for taking action on your wellbeing

Some stress is good for you

Humans need a certain amount of stress to deal with both day to day and ‘life threatening/in the moment’ actions.  Your body is reacting to a condition, situation and event. It’s protecting you.

Beyond a certain point stress stops being helpful and starts causing damage to your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships and your quality of life.

Here are some practical activities and approaches to help you manage your wellbeing while working from home.

  1. Physical
  • Slow down – check in with yourself; meditation, yoga & deep breathing reduce blood pressure.
  • Take breaks – the brain struggles to concentrate after 90 minutes.
  • Be active – physical exercise releases endorphins that reduce the emotional intensity of stress & help tackle causes. Go walk around the block.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Balanced diet – aids physical & mental health; don’t skip eating on a long day.
  • Seek help – be assertive towards those making extra demands; go to the doctor if you feel overwhelmed.
  • Sleep – 7/8 hours a night. Turn off devices one hour before.
  • Distraction and in the moment grounding actions.

Action point 4: which points will you take action on and add to your wellbeing plan to tackle the physiology of stress?

  1. Thoughts and feelings

Thoughts, feelings and physical reactions to stress are bound together by our and other peoples’ perception.

The key action is to change what you tell yourself

  • Have a ‘game plan’ for the situations you know trigger difficult thoughts and emotions
  • Adopt some different thinking approaches – don’t fall into that self-fulfilling prophesy trap
  • Learn to communicate well under stress
  • Get support
  • Breathe – breathing exercises work. Stop, stand up and breathe in deeply and then exhale 5 times
  • Calmness is your superpower – learn how to find your calm place
  • Find a coping strategy – do the following stress container exercise

Action point 5: an activity to help you cope with stress: the stress container

Think about your stress levels by using the stress container exercise.

Imagine there’s a bucket that you carry with you that fills up as you experience different types of stress. You are often able to carry the weight and volume of this stress, but you can also do things that lighten the load.

Day to day different pressures are pouring into the bucket – dealing with change, financial worries, family/relationship stress, poor diet, poor exercise, lack of sleep, anxiety, worries about work, health worries.

If you are feeling resilient and have a high tolerance to stress, your container may not fill up very far, but if you are feeling vulnerable or having a day filled with pressures, the container will seem small and it will fill up quickly.

There are positive coping mechanisms you need to use that act as a tap to release the stresses.  You take these actions to keep the tap open and they help you work on ways to reduce your stress.

Three steps to take to use the stress container

Step One

Empty everything that is in your head concerning work and home life into your stress container (write words/phrases).  If necessary, draw a bucket on a piece of paper and write all your pressures and worries down in it.

Step Two

Using this list of helpful coping mechanisms decide which ones you will use to ‘turn on the tap’ and stop it overflowing:

  • More sleep
  • Plan for the day
  • Time management
  • 90 minute breaks, in fact, anything from the list of physical activities
  • Looking after yourself – doing something different eat day
  • Looking after your diet
  • Look after your relationships
  • Reduce long hours
  • Stop self-medicating
  • Reduce and eliminate unhelpful coping strategies such as use of alcohol, smoking, poor diet.

Step Three

Step back and help yourself understand which actions help.  Stress is a subjective experience and all of the actions that help you turn on the tap and let the stress flow out are in your control.


Ideas and resources

Websites and and (tool kits and resources for yourself and employees)

MHFA UK Video on how to use the stress container

Book - ‘How to Stay Sane’ by Philippa Perry, published by The School of Life. Easy to read and it has a section on exercises such as grounding and distraction activities, questionnaires and breathing techniques.